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Is The Tuna Industry Ready For A Switch To FAD-Free? Global, March 9, 12

Retailers are beginning to adopt FAD-free tuna fishing methods and if more follow suit, the switch could change the tuna sector forever.
In February, Safeway became the first major US supermarket to transition to 100% FAD-free tuna for its own skipjack tuna product line. Last year, major retailers and tuna brands in the UK also made headlines when they promised to buy tuna fished more sustainably. The two popular, alternative methods are free school purse seining and pole-and-line fishing which both do not use FADs. But, increasing demand for fish caught without the use of FADs will exceed the supply available, an Asia-based tuna trading executive told Intrafish.
“Nobody should expect that existing catch levels can be maintained if everyone converted to school fishing. The price will rise – at any rate, in comparison with FAD fish,” he said. “I think that this would be a good thing. Tuna shouldn’t be cheaper than low grade luncheon meat.”
Higher prices for sustainable tuna is one likely impact, but the future of purse seiners geared especially for large catches caught with FADs could also be affected.
Due to the fact that not all purse seiners around the world have observers on board, and often not report, it is hard to say what the total global catch of FAD free tuna is. Estimations vary from 350,000 to 550,000 M/T, but in most cases this tuna gets mixed with FAD caught tuna in the wells of the vessels or during transshipments in the carriers.
One of the major challenges for the development of the FAD free supply will not just be the higher fuel costs related to free school fishing, but also how to keep the fish separated throughout the entire supply chain.